Government contact center satisfaction was unchanged at a rating of 67 this year. Measured on a 0-100 scale, CFI Group’s Government Contact Center Satisfaction Index (GCCSI) has been measuring citizen satisfaction annually for eight years. This year’s score of 67 places satisfaction squarely inside its historical range and 3 points higher than the all-encompassing Federal Government rating of 64. This report dives into the key factors that influence the satisfaction of those contacting the government and provides decision makers with the knowledge of where to invest in order to get traction in driving satisfaction higher.
IVRs ARE MISSING THE MARK IN THE GOVERNMENT SECTOR
The first key driver of satisfaction we see is the nature of the contact a caller has with an agency. Analysis of the GCCSI results shows an unmistakable distinction in satisfaction between citizens who connect directly with a live representative and those who interact with an automated IVR system. The satisfaction score of 75 for callers who immediately reached a live person is significantly higher than the 61 for those who first connected to an IVR. Some companies in the private sector have taken note of the frustration individuals have for automated answering systems and have responded by using live representatives to handle all customer service.
Perhaps more telling than this stark difference in satisfaction are the actions of those who do encounter an automated system at the other end of the line. Of those who dealt with an IVR, half tried immediately to exit the automated system and speak with an agent. Another 8% wanted to route to an agent right away but found no option to do so and 37% showed a willingness to interact with the IVR and attempted to use it to get their questions answered only to end up needing the help of a live agent to accomplish their task. This leaves just 4% of all IVR users who were able to utilize the automated system to get the information they needed.
THE BENEFIT OF THE HUMAN TOUCH AND THE IVR CHALLENGE
These statistics speak to the personal touch callers are looking for when contacting an agency. Whether the aversion to the automated systems is rooted in past experience or a disbelief that their particular issue can be handled by a recording, there is no mistaking that most citizens consider IVRs to be a barrier to accessing information rather than a helpful resource.
Agencies must find the right balance between the cost savings that IVRs provide and the higher citizen satisfaction levels attained by employing additional live representatives. With only 4% of users getting the information they need from the call center IVR systems, this requires a major overhaul as opposed to a few tweaks. Since a complete phase out of an IVR system is likely impractical for most agencies, the key for improvement lies in restructuring these automated tools in a way that serves citizens’ needs.
To ensure that contact center interaction is efficient and issues are resolved, it is important to understand the specific channels people use to contact the government. Phone calls still account for the majority of government contact, with over half of respondents using the phone for their most recent interaction. Direct contact with an agency’s website and email make up the other primary ways of contact, with alternative channels such as interactive chat and social media outlets accounting for the other contact methods being used. Despite the prevalence of online usage among the general public, there is a clear preference for direct interaction with a representative over the phone among the majority of respondents. Several leading private sector companies have implemented a “call back” option for individuals contacting their call center. This type of innovation eliminates excessive hold times and efficiently connects callers with live representatives.
THE IMPORTANCE OF FIRST CALL RESOLUTION
Resolving citizen issues is essential to the success of each agency’s contact center. Mimicking the stagnant GCCSI, issue resolution statistics have been unchanged since 2014 with under half (47%) of issues resolved with a single contact and 11% of individuals reporting their issue remains unresolved. Whether the reason for contact is to gather basic information or to work through a more complex situation, full resolution to each issue is critical in attaining an optimal level of satisfaction. The tangible effect that efficient issue resolution has on satisfaction is illustrated by the erosion of the GCCSI as additional contacts are needed to resolve a given issue. The 47% who had their issue resolved on their first contact rated satisfaction at 79, well above the overall score of 67. The score drops into the 60s when multiple contacts are required for resolution.
WHY GOVERNMENT AGENCIES NEED TO BE ON SOCIAL MEDIA
The negative impact of an unresolved issue is compounded by the finding that bad experiences are more likely to be shared with others. For those whose issue was resolved at their first contact, 31% shared their experience, but 65% of the group who required 3+ contacts or have not yet had a resolution shared their experiences with the agency with others. Working hard to resolve issues efficiently will not only drive satisfaction higher but will eliminate the negative word-ofmouth that dissatisfied citizens are more prone to share.
More alarming than the predisposition individuals have in sharing bad experiences is the way in which they broadcast their negative feedback. Social media has become a primary outlet for bad publicity as 63% of respondents who shared their experiences with an agency’s contact center did so on a social media platform. The good news here is the opportunity agencies have to address the issues raised and continue to work with individuals to resolve any lingering problems. Illustrating the positive impact this contact can have, 97% of those who were contacted by the agency after posting to social media said they appreciated the agency reaching out. This appreciation is evident in the satisfaction ratings provided by each group; those who were contacted by the agency following a social media posting have a collective satisfaction rating of 80, compared to 63 among those who were not contacted.
MOBILE APPLICATIONS OFFER CITIZENS A NEW OUTLET FOR INFORMATION
As agencies look for new ways to interact with citizens, this year’s study also examined the role of mobile applications in providing an additional outlet for information. As this is a relatively new technology not yet offered by many agencies, only 19% of respondents said they have downloaded an agency’s mobile app. However, this group’s collective satisfaction rating is 79, a substantial 14 points higher than those who have not downloaded or used a government mobile app. This increased satisfaction among app users indicates the development of this type of new technology is a worthwhile endeavor for those agencies with sufficient resources. Also noteworthy is the fact that 73% of respondents were unaware that a mobile app was available, indicating an opportunity to promote the applications for those agencies that currently offer this resource.
While mobile app users are generally associated with higher contact center satisfaction, the usefulness and desire for the apps varies by demographic and government department. Unsurprisingly, younger respondents are more likely to use the apps. Thirty-one percent of respondents under 45 said they use a government mobile app, while just 6% of those older than 45 use them. This leads to an increased opportunity to leverage the apps for agencies who provide services to a younger demographic. With 41% of respondents who contacted the Department of Education citing use of a mobile app, this department leads the way in mobile app usage with no other department’s respondents eclipsing 20%.
The findings of this year’s GCCSI study equip agency decision makers with the knowledge of where the greatest areas of opportunity lie in driving citizen satisfaction higher. The primary objective of the contact centers should always be resolving citizens’ issues and supplying them with the information they desire. Government contact centers can achieve improved efficiency and satisfaction through IVR system innovation, including the use of a “call back” option currently in use among several leading private sector companies. The development of mobile applications presents an additional opportunity for many agencies as a way of connecting with citizens and providing an alternative outlet for information. In summary, the agencies that focus on the specific needs and desires of citizens using their contact center and use this information to allocate improvement efforts efficiently will be the leaders in their field and drive satisfaction higher.
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